We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – the “cannot be bothered” edition

“For so many people to resile from what would once have been their natural responsibilities is an unprecedented social phenomenon and no one in public life appears to know what to do about it. The thing they agree on is that it is not a simple problem of management. It is damaging the country’s economy in catastrophic ways and it has moral dimensions that few politicians would dare to confront. In other words, it requires just the sort of large visionary message that has gone out of fashion.”

Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph (£), 18 February.

The condition of New York’s subway system is not the price of freedom, it is the price of voting for left wing Democrats

“I hate this framing because the “freedom” vs “order” tradeoff is not real. Russia has a higher homicide rate than the US. life there is shorter and more violent. if you’re choosing between freedom and order autocracy will get you neither”

Seva Gunitsky is referring to Jon Stewart telling Tucker Carlson that the reason why the US ‘can’t have clean functioning subways or cheap grocery prices like they do in Moscow is “the literal price of freedom”‘.

I am sure Jon Stewart would decline with horror an offer to work as one of Putin’s worldwide army of propagandists. But Putin does not need to make the offer when Stewart and many others are spreading his message for free.

Many working people who currently have no choice but to endure the aggressive begging, foul smells, and frequent violence in the subway systems in New York and other U.S. cities run by progressive democrats would count freedom (a political abstraction that they are constantly being told is an outdated white patriarchal construct) as an acceptable price to exchange for getting to go to work in something more like the gleaming Moscow Metro.

Sure, they would eventually realise that they made a poor bargain. A Professor Gunitsky says, the cleanliness and order of the Moscow subway is like one room of a generally filthy house that is obsessively kept clean in order to impress visitors. → Continue reading: The condition of New York’s subway system is not the price of freedom, it is the price of voting for left wing Democrats

Samizdata quote of the day – weaponising Net Zero against the West edition

“Net zero has turned into a Chinese weapon aimed right at the heart of Western competitiveness. If we don’t wake up and recognise soon that we have to figure out a better way of combating climate change our industries are about to get wiped out.”

Matthew Lynn, Daily Telegraph (£).

Can Abdul Ezedi beat this?

A week or so ago I posted about the case of Abdul Ezedi – the corrosive liquid attacker – and compared it with a similar case from a hundred years ago. Ezedi would appear to have been found in Mayor Khan’s makeshift morgue otherwise known as the River Thames. Meanwhile, a hundred years ago Ezedi’s counterpart’s case has reached a conclusion. This is from The Times of 29 February 1924:

At the Central Criminal court yesterday, EDITH LOUISA BASSETT, 30, was found Guilty of throwing corrosive fluid upon Arthur William Thompson, and upon three other persons, with intent to do grievous bodily harm to Thompson. MR. JUSTICE SHEARMAN sentenced her to three years’ penal servitude.

Only three years? But there’s a bit more to this woman:

After the jury had found the prisoner Guilty, Inspector Aldridge said she had a remarkable history. Throughout her life she had been of a violent disposition. In 1905 she was sentenced to 12 months’ hard labour for wounding with intent to murder. She had made the acquaintance of an omnibus driver and one night after he had stated that he wished to have nothing more to do with her she went on the top of his omnibus and cut his throat with a razor. In 1910 she married a man named Bassett. The marriage proved a unhappy one and the husband joined the Navy. She next met a wealthy young man, and saying that she was the daughter of a retired doctor, persuaded him to go through the ceremony of marriage with her. She was charged with bigamy and bound over. Later she went to Scotland and assaulted a gentleman whose son, she said, had failed to carry out his promise to marry her. The prisoner in 1914 was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment with hard labour at the Central Criminal Court for perjury in the name of Melville. In that case she had borrowed a person’s baby to obtain an affiliation order against a man. In 1915 she made the acquaintance of an Army officer, and told him that her father was a ranch-owner in Mexico, and induced him to marry her. She also married another officer, and in that case borrowed a baby to work on the generosity of the officer’s parents. For that bigamy she was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment.

I make that 4 weddings, 4 assaults and 3 jail sentences. The women of today yesterday…

Samizdata quote of the day – the horror of Mao’s dictatorship edition

“If I were prosecuting Mao, I’d further cover my bases by pointing out that he gave explicit orders to literally enslave hundreds of millions, then invoke the felony murder rule. However you slice it, Mao was a monster – and it’s high time for China to tear down his remaining posters and replace them with monuments to his victims.”

Bryan Caplan, EconLog.

His article refers to a new study of the terrible famine, wrought by collectivisation of the Chinese economy. Communists tend to be very, very bad at farming. Property rights, incentives, etc – they just don’t get it.

Until such time as China takes a full, objective reckoning of the monster that Mao was, I don’t see much that is benign about that nation, even though this isn’t meant to be a sweeping statement about all Chinese people, of course.

Senior election official admits vote-rigging

The Guardian reports that

A senior official in Pakistan has admitted to election rigging amid protests breaking out across the country over claims that its general election results were unfair.

The confessional statement throws further questions over the legitimacy of the 8 February elections, which were marred by controversies and allegations of rigging in Pakistan.

Commissioner Rawalpindi Liaqat Ali Chatta told reporters that authorities in Rawalpindi, Punjab province, changed the results of independent candidates – referring to candidates backed by the former prime minister Imran Khan’s party – who were leading with a margin of more than 70,000 votes.

Chatta said there was so much “pressure” on him that he contemplated suicide, but that he then decided to make a public confession. “I take responsibility for the wrong in Rawalpindi. I should be punished for my crimes and other people involved in this crime should be punished.”

He also accused the chief election commissioner and the chief justice of Pakistan for their roles in the rigging. Chatta was arrested by police after the statement.

For those unfamiliar with Imran Khan, the currently jailed former prime minister and leader of the party against which Mr Chatta says the vote-rigging was directed, in the 1970s, 80s and 90s he had fans worldwide as one of the best all-rounders in cricket history. During this period he was “known as a hedonistic bachelor and a playboy who was active on the London nightclub circuit” as Wikipedia puts it. Then he went home to Pakistan and binned his previous liberalism like a used condom. He encouraged the strict enforcement of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and has pushed for insulting Muhammad to be made a crime all over the world. He is a hypocrite and a jerk. But those things do not change the fact that there is a strong prima facie case that his party should rightfully form Pakistan’s next government. His being in jail on an obviously trumped-up charge strengthens not weakens that argument.

The Guardian article was light on detail about how Commissioner Chatta (also spelled Chattha and Chatha, and I think the Guardian article is mistaken when it says his first name is Rawalpindi – it looks as if they have mixed up his name with his job title) says that the vote-rigging in which he participated was done. This article from Arab News gives more detail. It quotes him as saying,

“The wrongful act I have committed in this election [is that] we have made people, who had lost [the election], win 13 MNA (member of the National Assembly) seats from Rawalpindi. We have turned up to 70,000[-vote] lead of individuals into their defeat,” Chattha said.

“Even today, our people are putting fake stamps [on ballot papers]. I apologize to all my returning officers who were working under my supervision, who were crying when I was asking them to commit this wrongful act, and they were not willing to do it.”

I toyed with the idea of just posting about Pakistan, and leaving it up to the commenters to make the obvious parallels with the United States, but decided that would be a cop-out. → Continue reading: Senior election official admits vote-rigging

Suppressing inconvenient facts requires skill and hard work

Are you ever tempted to give the mainstream media the benefit of the doubt? After all, in many areas of life cockup is more probable than conspiracy. I can sympathise with a journalist who is told to get 500 words out about an unfamiliar subject in twenty minutes and then gets it wrong or omits important details. One must also bear in mind that many Guardian journalists, for instance, still get their news from the Guardian. Similar naivety famously led the Independent and many other newspapers worldwide to claim on the day that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted that the three men he shot were black. As pointed out by Glenn Greenwald in that tweet, all these people had “reporting on current events” in their job description, but had evidently never even glanced at the TV footage of a trial watched by millions. However they were almost certainly deceived rather than deceiving. They would not have chosen to look so stupid.

See, I am capable of sympathy. Then along comes something to remind me that though many in the MSM are merely gullible and lazy, many others put a lot of conscious, careful effort into what they do.

Here is a Guardian report by Gloria Oladipo about a church shooting in the US: “Shooter at Joel Osteen church bought weapon legally despite history of mental illness”

→ Continue reading: Suppressing inconvenient facts requires skill and hard work

Another reason why I would not advise Ukraine to negotiate

“Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny dead, says prison service”, reports the BBC.

August 2023 – Navalny’s sentence is increased to nine years after a conviction on new charges of embezzlement and contempt of court. An additional 19 years at a “special regime” facility are added on charges of extremism.

December 2023 – After going missing for two weeks, the opposition leader is located in a penal colony in the North Arctic.

February 2024 – Alexei Navalny dies in prison.

That is how Vladimir Putin treats his own people. It is a safe prediction that he will be as or more cruel to those Ukrainians who fall into his power. If he gets the chance, I would not put it past him to do as his exemplar Stalin did to the captured Poles at Katyn.

I have seen some strange commentary from both the left and the right regarding Tucker Carlson’s visit to Russia to interview Putin. For instance Mehdi Hasan and James Lindsay both seemed to think there was something wrong with Carlson observing that the Moscow subway is clean, orderly and free of aggressive drug addicts. The historian and journalist William Dalrymple reposted a tweet from Edward Luce of the Financial Times that blasted Carlton for interviewing Putin, but I remember Dalrymple gushing over the valuable insights gained by those who interviewed Osama Bin Laden:

Writers such as Robert Fisk and the former CNN journalist Peter Bergen, both of whom have interviewed Osama bin Laden, and scholars such as Gilles Kepel, Malise Ruthven and John L Esposito, have proved to be more reliable guides to what is going on in al-Qaeda than any number of Downing Streets dossiers or CIA briefing papers.

To that list should now be added the name of The Observer’s Middle East expert, Jason Burke. His new study, Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror is possibly the most reliable and perceptive guide yet published to the rise of militant Islam, the threat it poses and the best way to tackle it.

The more we know about how Putin thinks, the better the chances of defeating him and saving many lives, both Ukrainian and Russian.

Transport for London has named London’s overground lines…

Samizdata quote of the day – people don’t want freedom edition

“Most voters don’t want tax cuts. They don’t want personal responsibility. They don’t want limited government. Britain was already in a dirigiste mood going into the lockdown. But, since coming out of it, it has been downright authoritarian.”

Daniel Hannan.

Samizdata quote of the day – Truly… truly… the state is not your friend

‘Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws.’

-Mayer Rothschild

If you asked the man or woman on the street whether they think we should have a ‘national conversation about the future of money’, they would probably say something like: ‘Yes, we need to talk about how we can have more of it.’

The Bank of England, however, has a different discussion in mind. It seems to be growing ever fonder of the idea that we should have this ‘national conversation’. But what it wants to talk about is not increasing wealth; it is ‘the future of payments’ (code for introducing a Central Bank Digital Currency or CBDC, the ‘digital pound’). The Bank of England, you see, lives on a rather different country to the rest of us – one in which the pressing economic problems we face are not to do with inflation, interest rates, quantitative easing, or overleveraging, but to do with how we pay for things. In the version of Britain which it inhabits, we have the national bandwidth to devote major resources to the designing of a ‘future payments ecosystem’ so that the UK can ‘remain at the forefront of payments technology’, and we also need to do this as a matter of urgency.

David McGrogan.

Read the whole thing.

Seeing the world through vitriol-tinted glasses

One of the big stories over the last couple of week has involved an attack involving a corrosive substance. The fact that the perpetrator appears to have been an illegal immigrant has not gone unnoticed.

Here’s another case:

After being five weeks in hospital, Arthur William Thompson, an omnibus inspector, attended at the Westminster Police Court yesterday to give evidence against EDITH LOUISE BASSETT, alias Mabel Young, 31, of Fentiman-road, Lambeth, on the charge of throwing corrosive acid in his face in the vestibule of the Court with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

But – as you’ve probably guessed from the presence of the word “omnibus” and a hyphenated road name – this isn’t recent. In fact it’s from The Times from Thursday 14th February 1924. And it’s far from an isolated case.